"Hear the voice of my song -- it is my voice
I speak to your naked heart." -- Chippewa Charming Song
- Before this, I would not do or say what impulse
rushes in to say or do
what instinct burns within
I had learned to temper in my clever sick
while stars unlock at dawn, anonymous as the speed of light
my gray mornings began as nothing, freed of geography
and stripped of any source or consequence.
I was, as you may expect, a human parenthesis.
There is no simple way to say this,
but drift closer, Invisible One, swim within this stream
of catastrophic history. Yours? mine?
No, you decide. And then
come here one more time so that I may speak your name this final round
you might think an infinite black fog waits to envelope me
you might dream an endless flat of light
you might think I drink
at the very edge of you, cowering like passerine while
hawks hunt the open field of my tiny wars,
but, little by little, like centipedes that whirl and spin
and sink into scorching sands of Sonora
or like gulls at Moningwanekaning that rise and stir
and vanish into the heat lightning of August
I will call you down and bring you into that deathly coil
I will show you each step and stair
I will do nothing and yet it will come to you in this way
that sorcery that swallowed me will swallow you too
at your desired stanza and in a manner of your own making
While I shake the rattle of ferocity moments before sunrise
while I burn sage and sweetgrass, and you, my darling,
while I burn you like some ruined fetish and sing over you
over and over like an almighty voice from the skies
it is in that fragile light
that I will love you
it is in that awakening
I will love myself too
in this dry white drought about to end
in this ghostly city of rememberYou will know this, too
and never be able to say.
Moningwanekaning: (Chippewa) Madeline Island, Lake Superior.
See the migrationnarratives of the Chippewa/Anishinabeeg.
© 1997 Denise Sweet
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